As one of the states that still recognizes a Common Law Marriage, divorce in South Carolina can a bit more complicated than in others. For those who are unaware of what a Common Law Marriage is, or how it is different than a regular marriage the following conditions must be met: The couple must live together and undertake activities which normally would be done as husband and wife. Examples of activities include, but are not limited too, opening a joint banking account, entertaining as husband and wife, or being received as guests under the belief of being husband and wife. You do not have to file taxes together, or take the same last name to still be considered Common Law Married. In South Carolina, Common Law Marriage can be established in as little as a single night.
What happens when a Common Law Marriage ends?
If you are unsure if your relationship could be called Common Law then you would need to retain a divorce lawyer. Once a Common Law Marriage has been established in the eyes of the court, then traditional divorce proceedings follow. Paperwork is filled out and filed, and both parties must either agree or go through negotiations or arguments until a final decision is made. For most cases, when a Common Law Marriage is established, unless otherwise expressed, division is usually around an even 50/50.
Why Common Law Marriage is relevant in terms of an estate.
When two people are living together under a Common Law Marriage, and one passes away without a will or proper estate planning, a lawyer is needed for the surviving party. This is especially true when there are family members contesting any claim the surviving partner had on the deceased’ s property or assets. So long as there is sufficient proof, through documentation and witnesses, that the couple lived and represented themselves as married, then the surviving partner can lay the same claim and rights as a formal legal spouse. If there is any question of rights, or if the will is challenged, then a good lawyer in the Rock Hill, Fort Mill, SC area that specializes in matters of estate should be called upon. There are several cases in South Carolina history where couples who lived together as man and wife, without a formal marriage, encountered issues in terms of the estate. Even with an obvious Common Law Marriage, other surviving relatives can step forward to dispute the matter. It is a sadly common problem that even occurs when there was a formal marriage. The only way to face it properly is with sound evidence and a good lawyer.